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Moe FonerMoe Foner
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The strike began. There were no, as I indicated, no preparations at all. David White just the other day told me that after two weeks of the strike Turner told him, privately, that the strike was lost. But she said that she could not end the strike because it would be a political disaster to end the strike. So she continued the strike. Now, because of the ineptness and the lack of preparation -- this was the most poorly prepared strike anybody had ever seen -- the workers were virtually left leaderless. The leadership had to come from the Unity and Progress people. They had to break their backs to provide leadership to the workers in the strike. The staff came from time to time, came late, and didn't know what to do when they came. Could not answer questions from members. There was no communication with the membership during the strike. There were no meetings, there was no material put out, and the members were pretty much in the dark. They were dependent upon radio reports which were ineptly handled, and never explained what was happening.

Doris was playing the role of the great leader from the Roosevelt Hotel, where she was holed up with the entire officers corps in 150 dollar a night suites. As David White indicated later, that they were partying into the night because negotiations weren't taking place. They were partying into the night, get up late, ordering food from outside and having a good time while workers were struggling and starving on the picket lines. One story in the New York Times about the situation in the hotel, which was designed to show Doris as the great leader, in which her staff people were quoted on how wonderful a cook Doris was in cooking up these fantastic meals in the hotel suites, while the workers read it and say, “We're starving on the picket lines and they're having this great time in the hotel.”

The other thing about the strike basically is the lack of support from the membership, because there was no leadership to it. It was a leaderless strike. It was like the wings were clipped off and nobody knew, there was no direction to it, nobody knew what was happening. There were no negotiations going on. The hospitals continued to operate, they brought in scabs. They got their own staffs to work around the clock. For the most part occupancy was not hurt.

But the other aspects of the strike were the relations with management. At one stage in the strike the union, with the management's approval, brought in Basil Paterson to act as a mediator and assistant to the federal mediates. Paterson had played a role in negotiating contracts with the league in the past -- I had been involved, and I think we referred to his role in past interviews. Paterson took it. First of all, it paid a good fee. I think they decided to

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